Nusra Front quietly rises in Syria as Islamic State targeted

Protesters hold the Jabhat al-Nusra flag during a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar Assad in Idlib province, northern Syria, in March 2013. The Nusra Front, Syria's al-Qaida affiliate, is consolidating power in territory stretching from the Turkish border to central and southern Syria, crushing moderate opponents and forcibly converting minorities using tactics akin to its ultraconservative rival, the Islamic State group. HUSSEIN MALLA, FILE/AP

Protesters hold the Jabhat al-Nusra flag during a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar Assad in Idlib province, northern Syria, in March 2013. The Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate, is consolidating power in territory stretching from the Turkish border to central and southern Syria, crushing moderate opponents and forcibly converting minorities using tactics akin to its ultraconservative rival, the Islamic State group.
HUSSEIN MALLA, FILE/AP

Stars and Stripes, by BASSEM MROUE The Associated Press, March 24, 2015:

BEIRUT — The Nusra Front, Syria’s al-Qaida affiliate, is consolidating power in territory stretching from the Turkish border to central and southern Syria, crushing moderate opponents and forcibly converting minorities using tactics akin to its ultraconservative rival, the Islamic State group.

But while the Islamic State group gets most of the attention largely because its penchant for gruesome propaganda, the Nusra Front quietly has become one of the key players in the four-year civil war, compromising other rebel groups the West may try to work with while increasingly enforcing its own brutal version of Islamic law.

Its scope of influence now abuts the Golan Heights bordering Israel, and its membership largely composed of Syrian nationals refuse any negotiations with the government of embattled President Bashar Assad, further complicating the brutal conflict.

“The Nusra Front will most likely outlast ISIS in Syria, and will represent a severe and existential threat to the aspirations of the Syrian people in terms of a pluralistic, democratic society,” said Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics, using an alternate acronym for the extremist group.

The Islamic State group helped create the Nusra Front, providing financing, manpower and military hardware in 2012. But the group and its patron eventually had a falling out in 2013 for ideological as well as strategic reasons. The Nusra Front, while loyal to al-Qaida, has cooperated with other Syrian rebel factions in the fight to oust Assad.

In recent months, the group has overrun rebel strongholds in Syria’s Idlib province, trouncing two prominent, U.S.-backed rebel factions, Harakat Hazm and the Syria Revolutionaries Front. Following the deadly clashes, SRF leader Jamal Maarouf fled to Turkey and Hazm announced it was dissolving.

A Middle East-based Western diplomat said the Nusra Front began its attacks on moderate, U.S.-backed rebel factions after the American-led coalition began airstrikes in September targeting both the Islamic State group and the Khorasan group, which Washington says is a special cell within Nusra plotting attacks against Western interests. U.S. officials last week said airstrikes have hit as many as 17 separate targets connected to the Khorasan group.

The Nusra Front responded with a series of spectacular attacks targeting moderate rebel groups and forces loyal to Assad in northwestern Syria, the diplomat said.

It “has now created coherent control of a strategic area between Idlib and Hama (provinces) in northwestern and central Syria,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists.

At the same time, the group has become increasingly aggressive toward local populations. In January, members of the group reportedly shot a woman dead in front of a crowd in Idlib after they accused her of being a prostitute. The group also has carried out public lashings, crucifixions and kidnappings — though it has not publicized the atrocities like the Islamic State group.

Activists in southern Syria say the Nusra Front was behind the January bombing that destroyed the shrine of a 13th century Muslim scholar. The Nusra Front issued a statement denying it was involved but activists say its members were seen placing the bombs.

“They’re trying to come across as rational, moderate, more dynamic,” Gerges said. “They don’t celebrate savagery in the same way like the Islamic State group.”

Residents say among the group’s most worrisome action so far is forcing members of the minority Druze sect living in Idlib’s Jabal al-Summaq region to convert to Sunni Islam.

The Druze, a 10th century offshoot of Shiite Islam, made up about 5 percent of Syria’s prewar population of 23 million people. In addition to Syria, Lebanon and Israel have large Druze communities.

“The Druze in Idlib are being subjected today to religious persecution. The Nusra Front carried out shameful acts. They have dug graves and damaged shrines,” said former Lebanese Cabinet minister Wiam Wahhab, a Druze politician with close ties to the community in Syria.

Activists estimate several hundred Druze have been forced to convert. A purported Nusra Front document, posted online and dated Feb. 1, outlined an agreement that saw Druze in 14 villages in Idlib convert. Under the deal, the Druze will implement Islamic laws, destroy tombs, impose Islamic dress on women and stop having mixed-sex schools. Idlib-based activist Asaad Kanjo said many Druze there have fled.

“You are likely to see this sort of behavior from Nusra in Idlib province because they are increasingly the dominant party in this part of Syria, and are in the midst of a concerted effort to eliminate rivals there,” said Faysal Itani, a resident fellow at the Atlantic Council. “Nusra ultimately wants to rule Syria.”

An opposition activist in Kafranbel, a town in Idlib, said the group has established an elaborate network of social services and Shariah courts and rules uncontested. Remaining rebel groups in the province operate only with Nusra’s approval, he said.

However, the group’s increasingly belligerent approach toward other rebel groups is starting to alienate former allies, said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The main Western-backed Syrian group, the Syrian National Coalition, which in the past has been wary not to criticize Nusra, has changed its tune.

“We are concerned over Al Nusra’s latest actions and abuses against civilians and (Free Syrian Army) fighters,” said spokesman Salem al-Meslet, adding that the abuses were akin to the Islamic State group and Syrian government forces’ “criminal behavior.”

The criticism has led the Nusra Front to issue a rare statement defending itself, saying its target are only those proven to have committed “crimes” against Muslims and fighters.

“It was not our intention on any day to spread influence and expand and control the worshippers and the country,” the statement from its Al-Manara Al-Bayda media arm said. “Rather, our goal and aim is to lift injustice from the oppressed, and push away every enemy that attacks the honor, religion, and sanctities of the Muslims.”

Associated Press writer Zeina Karam contributed to this report.

Follow Bassem Mroue on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bmroue.

Also see:

ISIS Digs-in For Battle of Tikrit as Sunni Populace is Targeted by Iran’s Proxies

March 14, 2015 / /

In an update to our piece “The Tikrit Front: Not So Rosy as Claimed by Obama Administration,” the Islamic State (IS) has been conducting steady operations to delay the IRGC-Qods Force-led assault force’s advance towards Tikrit. This is being done by executing a series of IED and VIBED attacks all along the major avenue of approach, which has been narrowed into a single entry point into the city after the destruction of the Tikrit highway bridge that effectively blocked the advance. The move has pushed the assault force into repositioning itself north and south of the city. Currently, the joint-force is prepping to launch the main push into the city, which we assess will occur within the next 3-5 days. We are aware of two IA BDEs have already moved to positions 40 km north of Tikrit and have remained stationary, likely waiting for follow-on forces to arrive.

Iraqi offensive to dislodge Islamic State from Tikrit appears to stall

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/iraqi-offensive-to-dislodge-islamic-state-from-tikrit-appears-to-stall/article23444248/

Iraqi forces pause in battle to drive Islamic State from Tikrit

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/13/us-mideast-iraq-idUSKBN0M91DR20150313

Shi'ite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi look at smoke from an explosives-laden military vehicle driven by an Islamic State suicide bomber which exploded during an attack on the southern edge of Tikrit

A Shia militia column forced to halt their advance after the detonation of a VBIED
Source: Reuters

The move to destroy the Tikrit highway bridge was done to force the advancing Qods Force/Shia Militia/IA units into a “fatal funnel” where they will face even more intense opposition in the form of complex attacks. Setting the nearby oil fields ablaze was likely done to mask the movements of IS units from the view of ISR assets – both American and Iranian – that are attempting to identify for target development. This is indicative of IS commanders possessing formal military experience, no doubt a reflection of Baghdadi’s efforts to recruit members of the Saddam-era military. On the flip side, we fully expect the Qods Force and their Shia proxies to intensify their operations by increasing the brutality of their treatment of the Sunni civilian population in order to “make an example” out of them. In fact, our sources in the country have reported to us that Qods Force commanding general GEN Suleimani – who is the overall commander of this campaign – has passed guidance to the Shia militias involved in the offensive that Ayatollah Khameini issued a fatwa authorizing the “total destruction” of Tikrit and the civilian population – who the Iranian regime views as “heretics that need to be purged from Iraq.” Indeed, there are those in the American intelligence community (IC) who continue with the erroneous thinking that the Iranian involvement in active ground combat operations in Iraq is a “positive thing” (looking at you GEN Dempsey). We submit to them the following video and corresponding reporting that highlights what we’ve been saying throughout the last few weeks (in case they don’t want to take our word for it):

Video shows burning village near Tikrit : “Shiite militias wanted revenge”

http://observers.france24.com/content/20150311-video-shiite-militias-sunni-village-tikrit

 

CNN and the rest of the American media has been reporting that the Qods Force and its proxies are trying to “win the hearts and minds” of the Sunni populace in a bid to put the most positive spin possible for the Obama administration -but they couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, they point to pro-government Sunni tribal forces participating in this joint-endeavor, but what they either fail to understand or willfully leave out of their reporting is the rather nasty fact that the Qods Force is using them as mere “canon fodder.” They’ve also been diverting ammo and other supplies meant for those tribal forces to their Shia proxies instead. So really, just how hard is GEN Suleimani trying to win those hearts and minds there? Keep in mind that a few days before the start of the Tikrit offensive, IS had abducted over 100 of those pro-GOI tribal fighters and the Qods Force didn’t seem to be very concerned nor did they try to save them. In a way the people on the Beltway are correct that Iran wants “stability” in Iraq – they just fail to realize that the Iranian regime views “stability” as an Iraq purged of all “unmanageable” influences. In other words, “all Sunnnis” are viewed as “terrorists.”

Iraq militia leader hails Iran’s ‘unconditional’ support

http://news.yahoo.com/iraqs-top-shiite-cleric-urges-help-militias-battling-105335552.html

Iraqi, allied forces try to win back Tikrit, win over hearts and minds of residents

http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/13/middleeast/iraq-isis/

Qods Force-Led Assault Force Meets Heavy Resistance in Tikrit

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5352

11 MAR

The main fight for Tikrit will be a long, hard slog
Source: Reuters

The Long War Journal put out a great piece two days ago that echoes our sentiments that we’ve been voicing since last summer, pointing out that not only will the Qods Force-led campaign will result in a worsened sectarian crisis, but that the regime is angling to use their involvement in Iraq as another bargaining chip to dupe the Obama administration into giving up even more concessions in the already one-sided nuclear deal that’s being negotiated. Their piece is a damning indictment of the rudderless Obama foreign policy that has led to the rise of IS and further entrenchment of the Iranian regime inside Iraq.

Analysis: Iran is No Partner in the Fight Against the Islamic State

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/03/analysis-iran-is-no-partner-in-the-fight-against-the-islamic-state.php

longwar

GEN Suleimani on the front-lines in the Tikrit-area
Source: Long War Journal

If you want to see just what the Iranian regime is all about, check out the following:

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Kurdish Insurgency

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4068

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Southeast Insurgency

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2689

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Charm Offensive

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2676

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the “Reformers”

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2635

Inside Iran’s Middle East: the Nuclear Weapons Program

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2640

The IA will be depending on the Shia militias to hold the terrain they’ve seized and secure the lines of communication (LOCs) while the main force attempts to push deeper into Tikrit itself. The problem with this is that IS has already been receiving reinforcements from Mosul and the Lake Thar Thar-area to begin hitting those LOCs. This dependency on the militias will only increase as it becomes painfully obvious that those “5 new IA BDEs” US advisors are training hasn’t been going as well as advertised. Worse, we have the Sunni civilians – most of whom have no love for IS – not only caught in the cross-hairs of the fighting, but actually being targeted by the very people claiming to be their “liberators.” Apologists claiming that the current foreign policy being implemented by the Obama administration is “the only reasonable plan” are dangerously naive in thinking that the Iranian regime’s involvement is “a good thing.” This is a regime that is brutal to its own people and to the Sunni population in Syria – so what makes them think that Iran is somehow going to be “different” in Iraq? The Qods Force and their Shia proxies are engaging in the same sectarian violence as IS – and the Obama administration just hitched itself to their wagon. Is this the “reasonable plan” the Obama administration’s supporters within the media have been referring to?

Other Related Articles:

ISIS Shaping Operations Against IA Blunts Mosul OP Before it Starts

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5171

IA Struggling to Avoid Collapse on Multiple Fronts -Mosul OP in Danger of Failing

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5008

GOI Has Big Plans to Retake the Country From ISIS – But Can They Pull it Off???

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4565

Tikrit Update as of 22 JUL 14

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=138

State of the Iraqi Air Force and Special Operations Forces

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=69

ISIS: Regained the Initiative in Northern Iraq

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3794

America is Losing the War Against Sunni Jihadists and Empowering The Shia Caliphate

isis-640x480Breitbartby DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, March 13, 2015:

With its support of the Baghdad government and the wrong rebels in Syria, the US Administration is doing the unthinkable: strengthening the spread of Tehran’s control in the Middle East and at the same time also helping the Sunni extremists to grow in power.

The American strategy against Global Jihad is having the opposite effect of that intended. And even key government officials are beginning to openly admit the failure of our policies.

The Director of National Intelligence, retired General James Clapper, recently testified that the terrorist threat is worse than at any other time in history and Major General Michael Nagata, responsible for planning our response to the civil war in Syria, has stated that the Islamic State is now more dangerous than Al Qaeda.

Seemingly just to prove the broader point about the global appeal of Jihad against the “infidel,” ISIS has just accepted the African terrorist group Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance, meaning that the Sunni Caliphate established last year in Mosul by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi now officially covers any territory that Boko Haram controls in Nigeria.

The spread of ISIS influence is not just about territorial control, it is about the staggering success of its international call to holy war, with an estimated 19,000 westerners having left their homes to wage jihad. The visual below, based upon a British think-tank’s unclassified research, shows just how international a recruitment wave this is, with almost every country on the map sending recruits to fight in just Syria alone.

image

Given all the evidence, even the most influential liberal commentators and pundits have admitted the failure of the Obama strategy against “Violent Extremism.” Writing recently in the New York Times, Thomas Friedman stated: “When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam” and added that as a nation “We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.” The left wing Atlantic magazine even dedicated 11,000 words to an article proving the Islamic roots of ISIS and the religious justification for its violence.

Fourteen years after the September 11th attacks and half way through President Obama’s second term, how can we explain a failure so egregious that even the pillars of the liberal left are finally prepared to call it out? The key mistakes upon which the current strategy is built are:

  • The White House’s belief in the ability to “degrade and destroy” ISIS through air power alone
  • The belief that Iran can be leveraged as an ally against ISIS
  • Gambling on Islamic rebels such as the Free Syrian Army as a way to remove President Assad of Syria, and mostly important:
  • The belief that ideology is irrelevant to the enemy we face and that this war can be won solely through military means or local proxies.

Each one of these premises is flawed and is undermining US national interests as well as the safety and stability of our regional allies.

Firstly, in the history of modern military air power, since the first hand grenade was thrown out of a biplane over a century ago, the number of insurgencies like ISIS that have been defeated by airstrikes alone is zero. Insurgents are defined by their capability to hold ground. This is what separates a rag-tag terrorist group from a real threat like the Islamic State. As a result, their control of territory by ground forces can only be countered by other ground forces contesting the same space and eventually destroying or pushing them out. This is not a call for the deployment of US troops, but for the recognition of the fact that only a ground response– for example, made up of Iraqi, Kurdish, Jordanian and Egyptian units– can defeat ISIS. (According to my sources even Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser, has admitted that US airstrikes are not working because we do not have the intelligence on the ground to know what to hit.) Any such response on the ground will not happen without US leadership and support, and in this President Sisi of Egypt will play the pivotal role even if the Obama Administration doesn’t like the former General. Without Egypt’s military might, the Islamic State will continue to grow and threaten the US even more than it already does.

By bringing Iran into our plans against ISIS, we are in fact strengthening a rival brand of Jihad. The war today in Syria and Iraq is not about the corruption of the former Maliki government in Baghdad or the human rights record of President Assad of Syria. It is about whose version of Islam will dominate the region. One only has to read or listen to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s sermon from the Grand Mosque Mosul in which he declared the Islamic State. The speech is about reestablishing the theocratic empire of Islam – the Caliphate – under Sunni control. ISIS even posted their real intent on social media:

Iran, on the other hand, also believes in the need to re-establish the Caliphate, but under its control as a Shia empire, and the wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, must be understood as the re-ignition of a 1,400 year old argument about who should control Islam. In fact, that is how the Sunni and Shia division of Islam occurred after the death of Mohammad, and those are the stakes for Tehran. The fact that the mullahs now control five regional capitals– Tehran, Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and now Sanaa– means that despite ISIS’s growth, the Shia extremists are winning. The White House’s belief that Tehran is an altruistic foe of Sunni jihadists like ISIS is driven by shortsightedness and a lack of understanding of the historic battle that is in play, and will simply strengthen the Shia proto-Caliphate, eventually even to include Tehran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons should the nascent deal the President is pushing come to fruition.

By contrast, in Syria, since 2011, the administration has been driven by its pathological hatred of Assad and the belief that, despite his enjoying the support of both Beijing and Moscow, Assad can be removed through the support of indigenous rebels such as the Free Syria Army. Speaking to the few true moderates that have organizational capability in theater, the sad truth is that we have chosen the wrong rebels. The more organized and loudest rebel groups are not the moderates but the true jihadists, some of whom have in fact formally allied themselves with ISIS. (This is not just a failure of the White House, but also the Republicans in Congress, especially Senator John McCain, who has the uncanny knack of supporting those who would kill us after they have killed all the Shia in the region).

Most disturbing of all is the Administrations willful dismissal of the real center of gravity in this war: the ideology of Global Jihadism. With its constant refrain that “upstream causes” such as poverty and lack of education are the real reason for terrorist violence, the White House displays a total ignorance of the groups we face today, from Al Qaeda to ISIS, from the Fort Hood shooter to the Tsarnaev brothers who killed and maimed hundreds at the Boston bombing.

As political correctness has been forced onto the practice of national security in general and counterterrorism specifically, we see absurd conclusions being drawn and fantastical policies being implemented. The recent international summit on “Combating Violent Extremism” hosted by the President and the White House assiduously preached repeatedly that religion has nothing to do with ISIS or Al Qaeda and concluded with this visual that all we need is more community outreach:

White House Summit

Of course, if poverty and lack of education were the drivers of terrorist violence, then half of the population of India would be terrorists. But they aren’t. Why? Because terrorist violence does not happen in a vacuum. It requires a spark, a narrative that acts as the justification to violence and the catalyst to mobilize people to do horrific acts against their fellow man. That ideology can be secular – for example, the communist terrorism of the Weather Underground led by Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers – or religious, such as ISIS. How else, for example, can one understand why the Islamic state would behead the 21 Coptic Christians whose murder they filmed on the shores of Libya, but instead burn alive the Jordanian pilot Lieutenant Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh? These decisions were not random.

For the jihadists of ISIS, the Copts are kuffar, infidels, and as the Koran teaches, the infidel must be “smitten on the neck” (e.g. Koran Ch. 47 V. 4). However, Lt. Kaseasbeh was a Muslim, a Jordanian Sunni, who in taking arms up against the Caliphate made himself an “apostate” and as a result he had to be killed not as an infidel but as one who committed the sin of leaving Islam and therefore, he was to be treated as if he were in hell, i.e. burnt alive. Religion is therefore so important to this war that it even defines the way in which the terrorists will kill you should you be captured.

Today, the Global Jihad has two brands. It is a war of the “Sunni Coke” versus the “Shia Pepsi” which also targets the local minorities caught in the middle, most especially the ancient Christians of the region.(Incredibly, the Parliament of the European Union seems to understand the threat better than the White House based upon the resolution it just issued against ISIS.) The powers that be have allowed politics and ideology to distort and pervert the practice of national security to such an extent that, incredibly, we are not only helping the Sunni Jihadists, but also the Shia extremists of Iran. Whichever side wins the war for the crown of the Caliph is irrelevant, since once their immediate foe is vanquished we, the infidel West, will be their next target.

Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is the Major General Matthew C. Horner Chair of Military Theory at the Marine Corps University. You can see his briefing from the Global Counterterrorism Summit on Why ISIS is Much More Dangerous than Al Qaeda here and follow him on Twitter at: @SebGorka.

The Betrayal Papers, Part IV of V: A New Genocide

The_Betrayal_PapersPart I of The Betrayal Papers explained the history and context of the Muslim Brotherhood’s influence in the American government.

Part II looked at the associations of seven Obama officials with Muslim Brotherhood front organizations in the United States.

Part III traced the Muslim Brotherhood’s and the State of Qatar’s influence on domestic policy and Obama administration scandals.

Part IV will examine foreign policy under Obama.  It will explain how the Obama administration and U.S. Department of State have used the American military and standing in the world as tools to kick start the creation of a new Islamic Caliphate.  Obama’s unconscionable enabling of and silence regarding a new genocide will be revealed. 

Finally, this article will offer a cursory reassessment of America’s allies, and which countries we have lost as friends.

“The transformation of America has been in the full swing ever since 2008.  President Obama’s no-show in Paris was an embarrassment for all Americans.  But it also was a signal to the Islamic jihadis.  It’s one of the many signals he’s sent over the years while he’s in office.  Now there’s no question: We got a hell of a job ahead of us…  with the Muslim Brotherhood penetration in every one of our national security agencies, including all our intelligence agencies.

Is Obama a Muslim?

This is the question that many Americans and people around the globe are asking themselves lately.  From his refusal to label the Islamic State “Islamic,” to his lecture about the Crusades at the National Prayer breakfast, what once was taboo is now starting to be verbalized.

Yet this may be the slightly wrong question to ask.  The ruling establishment of Saudi Arabia, home to Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, is rightly considered an authoritative voice of Islam.  In case you missed it, the Saudis have emerged as some of Obama’s biggest critics.

In doing so, the Saudis also revealed the truth regarding the Arab Spring.

Writing in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, columnist Dr. Ahmad Al-Faraj, while supporting Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before Congress, not only called Obama “one of the worst U.S. presidents;” he also exposed the nature of so-called “democratic revolutions” in the region.  Stated al-Faraj:

Since Obama is the godfather of the prefabricated revolutions in the Arab world, and since he is the ally of political Islam, [which is] the caring mother of [all] the terrorist organizations, and since he is working to sign an agreement with Iran that will come at the expense of the U.S.’s longtime allies in the Gulf, I am very glad of Netanyahu’s firm stance and [his decision] to speak against the nuclear agreement at the American Congress despite the Obama administration’s anger and fury.”

Translation: Obama served as a mouthpiece for, and armed, the Muslim Brotherhood (i.e., “political Islam”) revolutionaries in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and Syria.  He was aided in this incredibly destructive policy of jihad by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton until her resignation in 2013, and has been further aided by her successor, John Kerry.

The original Muslim Brotherhood, the Ikhwan, was banished from Saudi Arabia in 1927.  The conservative Wahhabi Saudi royals have traditionally had little use for exporting jihad, and indeed are one of the United States’ oldest strategic allies in the region.  Despite Americans’ revulsion at Saudi Arabia’s application of barbaric sharia (i.e., Islamic) law in their own country, outside the Kingdom Saudis have every reason to maintain the status quo with neighbors, including Israel, Jordan, and Egypt.  That means keeping the Muslim Brotherhood out of power.

The pertinent question is not whether Obama is secretly a Muslim, per se, but rather if Obama is a secret Muslim Brother.  That is the real question.

The Words of Obama, Dalia, and Rashad

If we take the Saudis, the most influential Gulf country, seriously, then it follows that Obama and his administration must have had a plan for the Arab Spring that goes back several years, i.e. 2008.

Part II of The Betrayal Papers identified seven Obama administration officials who had/have associations with several Muslim Brotherhood front organizations in the United States (CAIR, ISNA, MSA, etc.).  It also tracked their associations with Georgetown University and the Brookings Institution, both recipients of significant amounts of money from the State of Qatar, the home of many prominent Muslim Brothers.

One of those officials is Rashad Hussain, who is Obama’s Special Envoy to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.  In August 2008, Hussain co-authored a paper for the Brookings Institution called Reformulating the Battle of Ideas: Understanding the Role of Islam in Counterterrorism Policy.  The paper, which calls Islam the “strongest ally” in the “global effort to end terrorism,” explicitly calls for the American government not to reject political Islam, but to utilize Islamic scholars and Islamic “policymaking” to reject “terrorism.”  It also recommends that “policymakers should reject the use of language that provides a religious legitimization of terrorism such as ‘Islamic terrorism’ and ‘Islamic extremist.’”

Is it any wonder now why Obama says that the Islamic State “is not Islamic?”  This is the deceptive language of the Muslim Brotherhood, recently welcomed to the White House.

Let’s now turn our attention at a report co-authored by Dalia Mogahed, who was a member of Obama’s Advisory Council of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and influential in writing Obama’s nefarious 2009 speech in Cairo.  Additionally, Mogahed is currently listed as a member of Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs.

Mogahed was part of the Leadership Group on U.S.-Muslim Engagement.  Other members of the group were former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (of World Trade Center Mosque notoriety), and Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Ahmed Younis.  The report issued by the group called for engagement and cooperation with political Islam, and specifically with the Muslim Brotherhood:

The U.S. must also consider when and how to talk with political movements that have substantial public support and have renounced violence, but are outlawed or restricted by authoritarian governments allied to the U.S. The Muslim Brotherhood parties in Egypt and Jordan are arguably in this category. In general, the Leadership Group supports engagement with groups that have clearly demonstrated a commitment to nonviolent participation in politics.”

Indications of a plan to work with the Muslim Brotherhood were evident as early as June 2009, when the President went to Cairo’s Al-Azhar University to address the Muslim World.  The audience included prominent members of the Muslim Brotherhood that Obama insisted on having seated in the front row.   Said Obama, [The] partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t.  And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

With the statements of the Saudi journalist, Hussain, Mogahed, and Obama himself in mind, presented below is a thumbnail sketch of the Arab Spring and its consequences, and the intersection between the Obama administration and the Muslim Brotherhood.  This is only a fraction of the evidence that proves Obama has worked hand-in-hand with the Muslim Brotherhood to transform the Middle East.

Tunisia

In Tunisia in 2011, the government of Ben Ali fell after a man self-immolated, sparking a wave of protests.  Subsequently, Tunisia elected the Muslim Brotherhood Ennahda party, with a plurality of 37% of the vote.  In October 2014, Tunisia elected a secular government.

Libya

Libya exemplifies the essence of the so-called Arab Spring, an anarchic Muslim Brotherhood revolution that thrives on violence and chaos.

In such ungovernable disarray are significant parts of Libya today, that it is actually being used as a staging ground by ISIS for an invasion of Europe.

Despite repeated warnings and advice by the United States military to leave Muammar Gaddafi in power, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama launched a disastrous war against the Gaddafi regime, leaving a power vacuum for Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood to fill.

Practically, Libya served as armaments bazaar for the Muslim Brotherhood and all associated terrorist groups.  Libyan weapons have ended up in the hands of jihadis across North Africa, potentially contributing to the stockpile of arms of Boko Haram.  These weapons were also sent to Syrian rebels, including groups who are now part of ISIS.

Currently, an ongoing proxy war rages in Libya.  The anti-Muslim Brotherhood countries of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates battle Qatar and Turkey (close allies of the Obama administration) and the local Islamic terrorists.

Benghazi

Benghazi and all the mystery that surrounds it can mostly be dispelled in a few short paragraphs.  A few facts will inform the reader, and then the attack that killed four Americans on September 11, 2012 can be then put in the larger context of a Muslim Brotherhood-guided American agenda.

First, the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, aka Ansar al-Sharia, was hired to guard the compound by the American government.  In a word, they are a jihadi militia.

Second, the compound in Benghazi was crawling with CIA agents.  According to CNN’s Jake Tapper, there were “dozens” of CIA personnel present the night of the attack, and the Obama administration has gone to “great lengths” to obscure their activities.  Many speculate that Ambassador Stevens was a CIA asset in the State Department.

Third, only hours before the attack, Stevens met with a Turkish ambassador at the compound.  Turkey, it should be recalled, was a transshipment point for some Libyan weapons that were shipped out of the country to jihadis elsewhere.

Fourth, the Muslim Brotherhood Morsi government of Egypt was involved with the attack.  In fact, some of the terrorists were caught on video saying “Don’t shoot!  Dr. Morsi sent us!”

These facts beg the question: If Ambassador Stevens was in fact overseeing a gun running operation to Islamic/jihadi/Muslim Brotherhood militias, why would the same people kill him?

Given the above evidence, the prominent theory that Stevens was going to be a trade for the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, seems a plausible explanation.  (Morsi was dedicated to the release of Rahman.)  And this theory is endorsed by no less an authority than retired four star Admiral James Lyons.

Once this plan went spectacularly wrong, a number of other things occurred, which again, fit into the larger picture of a Muslim Brotherhood-control Obama administration.

In an alarming breach of protocol and duty, Obama’s Special Advisor, Valerie Jarrett, issued the order to the military “stand down.”  In other words, she ordered that Stevens and the other Americans be left to fend for themselves against a well-armed jihadi militia.

Regarding the now infamous Talking Points scandal involving Susan Rice, et. al., that blamed the attack on obscure and poorly produced movie, an MSA member from George Washington University was copied on the email sent by Ben Rhodes (who, recall, wrote Obama’s 2009 Cairo Speech).

Finally, George Soros is also connected to this scandal.  The Obama-appointed lead investigator for the attack was Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who has ties to CAIR, a well-known Muslim Brotherhood front group in the United States.  At the time of the investigation, Pickering was the co-chair of the Soros’ International Crisis Group.  He is still a trustee.

Egypt

So much has been written about Obama’s decision to force the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, and the subsequent election of Mohamed Morsi to the Egyptian Presidency, that the space here will be used only to reinforce some key and lesser known points.

  • Mubarak was the lynchpin of regional stability, the president of the most populous Arab country who maintained not only peace but a strong relationship with Israel and the United States.
  • Mohamed Morsi likely joined the Muslim Brotherhood through the Muslim Students Association in America, while he was a student at University of Southern California.
  • The wife of Mohamed Morsi was a long-time friend of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  • When Morsi came to power and began to implement sharia law, Obama promised the Morsi government $8 billion in exchange for land in the Sinai for Palestinians (Hamas).  Once Morsi was removed, following a brief, murderous, and highly destructive reign of power, Obama immediately withheld military aid to Egypt.
  • Through 2013, the Clinton Foundation received between $1 million and $5 million from Qatar.
  • It appears likely that close Obama friends, the domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and wife Bernadine Dohrn, played a significant role in fomenting the protests which led to the resignation of Mubarak. Terrorist birds of feather flock together.

In case you were wondering, Obama advisor Dalia Mogahed considered the ouster of Morsi a “coup,” and CAIR and ISNA were likewise critical of the restoration of secular law in Egypt, which no doubt has prevented the slaughter of countless Coptic Christian lives.

Syria, Iraq, and ISIS – A Lost War, a Genocide, and a Rape of Humanity

Say what you will about Bashar al-Assad, he and his father Hafez have always strongly opposed the Muslim Brotherhood.  Indeed, Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, aka Abu Musab al-Suri, a lieutenant of Osama bin Laden and architect of the Madrid train bombings, spent most of his life trying to overthrow the Assads and implement sharia law.  (Not only is Nasar Syrian, his nom de guerre “Al-Suri” means “the Syrian.”)  As late as 2008, none other than Nancy Pelosi was hobnobbing with the secularly minded Assads.  John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry also dined with and were entertained lavishly by the Assads in 2009.

What Obama has unleashed in Syria by supporting jihadi rebels is an apocalyptic force of total depravity that specializes in genocide and cultural annihilation.  There are few words that do justice to the evil, inhumanity, and unbelievable cruelty that define ISIS and their end-of-times approach to warfare.

Not only do they set people on fire, but they also behead and torture children.  Americans are bombarded with these images regularly.  Equally as atrocious and appalling, they openly and gleefully destroy everything pre-Islamic.  Much like the Buddhas in Afghanistan that the Taliban dynamited, ISIS believes in the Islamic concept of Jahiliyyah, which demands that all traces of civilization before the time of Mohammed the Prophet be erased.

ISIS is literally rampaging across the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia, laying waste to some of humanity’s oldest faith communities, artifacts, and landmarks.  Simultaneous to the modern day Holocaust that is happening to ancient Christian communities in the occupied regions, ISIS trumps even the art-hoarding Nazis in their total disregard for all things that make us human.

In the face of this unspeakable crime against humanity, Obama has not once mentioned the ongoing genocide, much less the irreplaceable loss of culture and tangible history.  The airstrikes ordered by Obama and his advisor Valerie Jarret against ISIS have been described as “pin-pricks.”  This shows that they are either lackadaisical in the face of the genocide, or more likely do not wish to be bothered.  So committed is Obama to America’s defeat in the Middle East that he has appointed the above-mentioned Rashad Hussain, a documented supporter of political Islam, as a social media “warrior” to lead the cyber charge against these subhuman savages.

In time, the enormity of this crime will be examined through a historical lens.  A few decades from now people will wonder how the liberty-loving United States elected a hollow, morally insipid man named Barack Hussein Obama, who armed and trained a jihadi army that destroyed our common human heritage and murdered entire tribes by the thousands.

Of great concern, domestically the soulless ISIS is now operational in all 50 states (according to the FBI), and ISIS training camps have been discovered in various states.  A not-so-unexpected consequence of Obama’s open borders policy, indeed.

Regarding Iraq, it is no surprise and it is not hyperbole to simply state the obvious: Obama and the Muslim Brotherhood surrendered Iraq to the enemy, willingly and consciously.  Into this void steps an emboldened and rejuvenated Iran.

Afghanistan

Much like Iraq, Afghanistan is in the process of being surrendered to the Taliban.  Not only has the administration and (Afghan President) Karzai negotiated with the Taliban, they also idly watched as the same terrorists who hosted Osama bin Laden set up an embassy in Doha, Qatar.  A national intelligence estimate as early as December 2013 predicted that all progress would be lost once a military drawdown began.

True to form, seven months after this estimate was released Obama swapped one American deserter, Bowe Bergdahl, for five high ranking Taliban commanders released from Guantanamo Bay, and a significant sum of money.

Following Obama’s policies, all the American blood and treasure spent liberating Afghanistan will be sacrificed by Obama, to the absolute benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood.

As a postscript, it will be noted that a primary source of Taliban funding, poppies for opium, have seen record Afghan crop yields in 2013 and 2014.

Nigeria

While #BringBackOurGirls may have been a temporary PR win for the Obama administration, it obscured the fact that the administration has been consistently enabling the growth of the jihadi army of Boko Haram by downplaying them as a threat.  As if on cue, last week Boko Haram pledged allegiance (bayah) to the Islamic State.

According to one report that rings true, Boko Haram began with a $3 million grant from Osama bin Laden.  One senior U.S. intelligence official stated, regarding the matter, “There were channels between bin Laden and Boko Haram leadership… He gave some strategic direction at times.”  This connection evidently does not phase the Obama administration and U.S. Department of State.

As Andrew McCarthy wrote regarding the Clinton State Department’s position on Boko Haram:

“Instead, ignoring what Boko Haram pronounces its goals to be, the Obama administration portrayed it as a diffuse organization with no clear agenda that was ascendant due to the policies of the Nigerian government (which is under Christian leadership).”

Hillary Clinton’s successor at State, John Kerry, sings the same tune, while thousands of Nigerians are massacred.  Following air strikes by the Nigerian government, Kerry urged restraint, warning Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan “to respect human rights and not harm civilians.”

Meanwhile, this African scourge has amassed a “massive army” that is reportedly stronger than the Nigerian Army.  Defeating Boko Haram will likely take the coordinated efforts of Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon, which has close ties to a very sympathetic Israel.  The French Army is right now operating out of Mali in Nigeria, contributing to the fight against the jihadis.

Israel

There is so much in the news regarding Obama’s falling-out with Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu that little needs to be added here.  The likely breaking point in the relationship was Obama’s and Kerry’s siding with Qatar and Hamas during the war last summer; and, more recently, with the obvious intention of Obama to permit Iran to develop their nuclear arms capacities.  This week, it is reported that Obama has appointed another Hamas-connected advisor, Robert Malley, to coordinate Middle East policy for the White House.

The deplorable disrespect and insults hurled at Netanyahu by the Democrats during his visit are the mirror image of an America whose college campuses have been overtaken with a virulent anti-Semitism.

Still, this chapter would not be complete without mentioning the integral part that Obama’s friends Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, terrorists themselves, played in launching the diplomatically catastrophic “Peace Flotilla” – boats from Turkey, filled with military supplies and other goodies, for Hamas.

Iran

Into the grand void, the power vacuum, created by the Arab Spring, steps a nation largely unaffected by the Arab Spring: Iran.  In fact, when Iran nearly embraced modernity and secular government with its so-called “Green Movement,” Obama and the Iranian-born Valerie Jarrett stood conspicuously on the sidelines.  Years in the making, the protestors and activists who challenged the Iranian mullahs paid dearly for their attempt at overthrowing the Islamic Republic while Obama’s administration remained silent and watched them get smashed.

An historic moment was totally squandered.

Whether it is in Yemen or in Iraq, Iran is the beneficiary, net-net, of the Arab Spring.  Even as their Supreme Leader openly calls for the destruction of Israel, the Obama administration proceeds undaunted with negotiations that would give them nuclear capabilities and the means to strike the Middle East, Europe, and the United States with intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Conclusion

The Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi put it this way: Obama “switched sides in the War on Terror.”  The evidence presented above is but a glimpse into the preponderance of open source, published information that supports the Commission’s conclusion.

We are now faced with a totally new geopolitical situation: geographically, politically, and militarily.

With the body count growing by the day, and with a far larger war looming on the horizon, one would think that the responsible parties still left in government would pause, reflect, and begin to reverse course before it is too late.  Yet as recently as December, NATO hailed its partnership with terrorist financier extraordinaire, the Gulf State of Qatar.  This is tantamount to openly declaring allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood, a totalitarian and genocidal movement whose actions we see manifested daily.

The ultimate fallout from this historic, awful change in American policy may very well be a war of untold destruction.  In the meantime, it is observed that some of America’s former allies have already decided that we, as agents of jihad, can no longer be trusted.  Egypt is forming a closer relationship with Putin’s Russia, as is Saudi Arabia.  India, which had moved closer to the United States under George W. Bush, has also turned toward Russia.  France, with the rise of the National Front party, may very well be next to look east to Moscow.  And Israel is openly courting new strategic alliances.

Truly, there have been few times in American history when our national commitment to morality, decency, and humanity has been so genuinely questionable.  If the majority of the American people understood what has already been risked by this president and his Muslim Brotherhood-aligned administration, they would demand immediate resignation and a full investigation of the government agencies which are in league with, and give aid and comfort to, the enemy.

The Betrayal Papers is a collaborative effort by the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, which includes: Andrea Shea King, Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, Benjamin Smith, Bethany Blankley, Brent Parrish, Charles Ortel, Chris Nethery, Denise Simon, Dick Manasseri, Gary Kubiak, Gates of Vienna, IQ al Rassooli, Right Side News, Leslie Burt, Marcus Kohan, Mary Fanning, General Paul E. Vallely, Regina Thomson, Scott Smith, Terresa Monroe-Hamilton, Colonel Thomas Snodgrass, Trevor Loudon, Wallace Bruschweiler, and William Palumbo.

The Increasing Role of Aussie Jihadists in ISIS Efforts to Expand into Southeast Asia and Strike the West

The formation of regionally-aligned units are clear indicators that efforts are underway to begin setting up specialized attack cells in western nations and incorporating these returning personnel into new training support packages to aid in training up additional recruits in the target countries.

March 8, 2015 / /

As of this writing there’s an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters from across the world filling the ranks of the Islamic State (IS), effectively becoming what the Afghan war against the Soviets was in the 1980s for the global jihadist movement of the 21st century. We at the ISIS Study Group have been following this phenomena since before the establishment of our organization, detailing emerging trends and support hubs – often before western media or the US government. Australia is one of those emerging support hubs that we’ve been warning about since the first days of our web site. In this piece we will be giving a status update on our favorite Aussie jihadists and their growing contributions to Baghdadi’s vision and the increased role they play in expansion efforts into Western countries and throughout Southeast Asia – the Philippines in particular. More importantly we will be getting into how Aussie jihadists present IS with an invaluable asset from which to expand their external operations capabilities.

Estimated 20,000 foreign fighters flock to Syria

http://www.3news.co.nz/world/estimated-20000-foreign-fighters-flock-to-syria-2015021115#axzz3TjwflSD2

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Aussie foreign fighter “Abu Khaled” is just one example of IS using westerners in propaganda videos issuing direct threats to the Australian, UK and American governments
Source: http://www.news.com.au

As we’ve previously reported in our piece titled “The Continuing Flow of Foreign Fighters From Australia,” the Bankstown-based al-Rislah Bookstore/Islamic Center was being used as a reception area for those aspiring to make the trip to Syria and fight under the IS banner. This location was being used to both radicalize/recruit personnel in addition to sponsoring their travel, as demonstrated by Haddad’s friend Khaled Sharrouf who people may remember from having his kid pose for a picture while holding a severed head of a fallen Syrian Soldier. Since the SEP 14 closer of the bookstore the owner, Wissam Haddad, implied that his work would continue. We’ve suspected that he’s gone “underground” and has been working closely with his close associates Robert “Musa” Cerantonio (variant-ceratonio) and Muhammed Junaid Thorne. Prior to his bookstore being shut down, Haddad was very out-going with local Aussie reporters in discussing the “adventures” of his friend Sharrouf while praising the “virtues” of IS and issuing threats to Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Still, he never allowed anybody to take his picture – until late-FEB 15 when he started yelling at reporters who wanted to talk to him. So why the change? We assess it has more to do with his underground operations facilitating the travel of jihadists to Syria and possibly attack plans targeting locations within Australia itself.

The Continuing Flow of Foreign Fighters From Australia

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2889

Meet the point man for radical Islam

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/terror/meet-the-point-man-for-radical-islam/story-fnpdbcmu-1227240723502?login=1

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GET OFF MY LAWN!!!: Haddad yelling at reporters outside of his house
Source: News Corp Australia

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Sharrouf and his son
Source: al-Hayat Media Foundation

So how is Haddad and his associates still able to do this with the increased targeting by Australian security forces? They’re exploiting current Australian laws that provides them with much greater freedom of movement. More importantly, they’ve made contact with their European counterparts Millatu Ibrahim (check out “The Continuing Flow of Foreign Fighters From Australia” for more details). Millatu Ibrahim (variant-Millat Ibrahim) is a Germany-based group that was established in 2011 by Austrian-born jihadist Muhammed Mahmoud aka “Abu Osama al-Ghraib.” He’s tied to the al-Qaida-affiliated media company Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF). The group is part of a much larger network of jihadist websites operating in multiple countries. When the IS-AQ split occurred, Millatu Ibrahim decided to support Baghdadi. Despite being banned in Germany, the organization continues to operate in the country “underground” much like Haddad’s operation. This is likely why Junaid Thorne has been reaching out to Millatu personnel that led to the establishment of an Australian wing known as “Millatu Ibrahim Australia.”

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Millatu Ibrahim AU’s official Facebook page: Not surprisingly its a “closed group”
Source: Millatu Ibrahim AU’s Facebook page

Millatu Ibrahim also has a well-established presence in Denmark (reference our piece titled “Jihadist Infestation: Terrorism Results in Copenhagen Chaos”). Both of the organization’s branches are actively engaging potential recruits through the use of social media and underground lectures sponsored by a network of affiliated Islamic centers. Thorne’s work in reaching out to his European associates has paid off big in not only getting an Australian branch of Millatu Ibrahim established, but also in sharing resources and ideas on facilitating the travel of volunteers to Syria from the Pacific theater of operations. One of the biggest things to come from this alliance is the increased effort to conduct activities “under the radar” through the use of Islamic centers throughout the Sydney and Brisbane-areas that are teaching jihadist ideology.

Jihadist Infestation: Terrorism Results in Copenhagen Chaos

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4831

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Thorne speaking at a Millatu Ibrahim event held at the al-Rislah Bookstore
Source: http://fadielhaje.com/2014/08/29/islamic-radical-wissam-haddad-dares-pm-tony-abbott-to-rip-up-his-passport/

Haddad and Thorne’s mutual ally Musa Cerantonio have been spending quite a bit of time from 2013-2014 making inroads throughout Southeast Asia in assisting terror groups in the region with setting up their own foreign fighter pipelines and jump-starting their own propaganda efforts to stimulate recruiting. Here, the Philippines became his primary target due to the country’s permissive operating environment for any jihadist group looking to set up shop there. We saw this with his role in getting the video filmed in Bicutan Prison pledging allegiance to IS. That was significant in that it showed Cerantonio had made contact with members of detained-Rajah Suleiman Movement (RSM) leader Hilarion del Rosario aka “Ahmed Santos’” Metro Manila-based network prior to his JUL 14 arrest and deportation. More importantly, it showed that Cerantonio has a relationship with both the al-Hayat Media Center and al-Battar Media Foundations – the two major IS propaganda machines.

Possible terror group links for Australian cleric

http://www.smh.com.au/national/possible-terror-group-links-for-australian-cleric-20140713-zt64v.html#ixzz39Uf6qBlk

Abu Sayyaf Group Faction Pledges Allegiance to Islamic State

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=527

musa cerantonio

Musa Cerantonio
Source: His Facebook page

Below is the video that was filmed at Bicutan (which also happened to be in the same cell block that Santos and several other RSM and Abu Sayyaf Group members are located):

 

Here’s another video by Rappler talking about Cerantonio being seen in Zamboanga, Cebu and Manila:

 

Indeed Cerantonio is a fake (aren’t all prominent IS-types?) who didn’t leave from the Philippines to Syria as he claimed just before his arrest, but there was a reason for that. You see, he was willing to take the hit if it meant keeping the Philippine Security Forces (PSF) off the trail of what he was really doing in the country. So what was he doing? He was meeting with members of the Southern Philippines-based terror groups and Santos’ Metro Manila-based network. Santos’ network is heavily involved in fundraising and facilitating travel to the Middle East and assisting the overall Philippines-based Black Flag affiliates with establishing their own pipeline going into Syria. This task was relatively easy since the al-Marrif Educational Center (AMEC) and Islamic Studies Call and Guidance (ISCAG) have both been heavily involved in facilitating terrorist operations in the country as well as travel to Saudi Arabia and Yemen since the 1990s. What Cerantonio brought to the table was lessons-learned from the Australian jihadists’ work in avoiding prosecution by the government and a direct-line to bona fide IS contacts in the Middle East – two key things that the groups in the groups based in the Philippines lacked at the time. More importantly, he accelerated the Philippines-based terror groups’ efforts to unify – pulling together their resources – into a more cohesive entity.

Muslims identify with ‘terrorist’ ideals

http://www.islamawareness.net/Asia/Philippines/mt3.html

Southern Philippines Backgrounder: Terrorism and the Peace Process

http://www.refworld.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?docid=412b41cc4

BALIK TERRORISM: THE RETURN OF THE ABU SAYYAF

http://www.american-buddha.com/911.balikterrorismabuza.htm

Questions we Have For PNoy

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3337

People Are Waking Up to the Southeast Asia ISIS Threat – But Things Are Still Being Missed

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3314

President Aquino: The Barrack Obama of Southeast Asia

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3097

musa_98

Cerantonio always had a soft spot for the Philippines and its historical role as a support hub for terrorism
Source: His Facebook page

One individual who served as Cerantonio’s point of contact in the Southern Philippines was Sheik Abdulwakil Tanjilil, who is the Deputy Mufti for Western Mindanao and Palawan. Originally from Parang, Sulu, Tanjilil went to Syria for his advanced Islamic education, attending the University of Damascus (graduating in 1989). He would later establish the Salamat Islamic Institute that has several satellite locations throughout the Zamboanga Peninsula and Sulu. He’s also been quite active with student groups on the Western Mindanao State University campus and AMEC-affiliated Islamic centers located in Zamboanga City teaching Salafist doctrine. In fact, he’s been teaching classes at one Zamboanga City-based Islamic center in particular for this very same purpose. According to our sources, his lectures are centered around the concept of a “Caliphate” being established in Southeast Asia – the very same ideology adhered to by IS and the Southern Philippines-based Black Flag movement, although Tanjilil doesn’t evoke the name “Baghdadi.” Tanjilil’s propagation activities and sponsorship of “promising students” to travel to Syria to take classes at the University of Damascus are likely what drew Cerantonio to him like a moth to a flame. We’re aware that Tanjilil has sponsored the trip of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member Ustadz Jaiton Jala Timuay to Syria and has been doing so for many others since the 1990s. His status as the “Al Sharpton of the Southern Philippines” thanks to his ties to local politicians and security force personnel gives him a great degree of protection and freedom of movement to conduct his activities unhindered. Despite Cerantonio being deported back to Australia, Tanjilil and members of Santos’ network (Sheik Omar Lavilla, for instance) have been continuing the work they started. Our question here is what would Tanjilil say about meeting with a known IS facilitator of Cerantonio’s level? Has any of his friends in the local government even informed about his dealings with cerantonio? Do they even care? Something to consider.

History and Bio of Tanjilil and the Salamat Islamic Institute

http://mahadsalamat.weebly.com/history–founder.html

AFP to continue pursuit of Sayyaf despite Ramadan

http://www.philstar.com/nation/2013/07/09/963500/afp-continue-pursuit-sayyaf-despite-ramadan

Philippine security forces arrests Muslim cleric for terror links

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/osint/conversations/topics/109467

Philippines Jihad Update as of 24 FEB 15

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5107

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.58.26 PM

Cerantonio (Left) and Tanjilil (Right): note the IS sweatshirt being worn by Cerantonio – we’re pretty sure Tanjilil noticed and knows about the sweatshirt’s meaning
Source: The ISIS Study Group

musa ceratonio and young boys

Cerantonio during one of the outreach events he and Tanjilil participated in together (Taken in Zamboanga City)
Source: The ISIS Study Group

tanjilil_2

Tanjilil schmoozing with local political and PSF officials – perhaps someone should tell them about who he’s been hanging out with on the side?
Source: The ISIS Study Group

People like our own President Obama and his Southeast Asian clone PNoy share the belief that poverty alone is a key catalyst for radicalization. However, IS has enjoyed recruits filling the ranks that come from a wide-range of demographics – many of which happen to come from some rather well-to-do lifestyles. The reason IS and its affiliates have been so successful is that it all comes down to ideology, and that is why people like Cerantonio and Tanjilil have been so successful in the Philippines. In the Southern Philippines Filipino youth that have been joining the various terror groups affiliated with IS tend to come from the urban middle-class demographics (this is particularly the case in Marawi and Cotabato City). This means a pool of recruits that are well-educated and specialize in things like nursing, teaching and technology. Many are multi-lingual in that they tend to speak English and Arabic in addition to their native Filipino dialects (mostly due to several having already previously worked in the Middle East as an overseas foreign worker or “OFW”). This is perhaps the most important contribution Cerantonio and his Australia-based associates have provided IS: skilled personnel who can help administer Baghdadi’s “Caliphate” by providing services and maintain/repair infrastructure that was seized from the Syrian and Iraqi governments. Similar efforts are also underway in Malaysia through Hizb ut-Tahrir (HUT), which has branches in both Australia and Indonesia (and let’s not forget Europe).

ISIS Recruits Skilled Personnel in Malaysia

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2869

Filipinos among Arrested in Security Sweep

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4318

Hezb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) serves as the political face to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) – a jihadist group with equities in Malaysia and the Philippines. JI also has a memorandum of understanding to both IS and al-Qaida where they can provide personnel to both organizations without actually having to “pledge allegiance” to anybody. HTI is heavily involved in raising funds for the propagation efforts in Japan (there’s a good-sized Indonesian expat population there). That money is also used for facilitating operations in Syria, where they would oftentimes work with another JI front known as the Hilal Ahmar Society Indonesia (HASI) that’s heavily involved in providing cover for personnel traveling to Syria. Those personnel will either fight jihad or perform humanitarian missions supporting the Sunni population in IS-held territory in Northern Syria. Much of this is coordinated with HUT’s Australia branch, which isn’t surprising since they’ve been among the first to gain a foothold in Syria when the Syrian Regional War was just starting to heat up. The Australian government has discussed off and on whether to ban HUT over the years with a renewed effort having begun earlier this year. The terror organization has their share of apologists in the media, such as the author who wrote the Guardian article titled, “Why ban Hizb ut-Tahrir? They’re not Isis – they’re Isis’s whipping boys.” Such thinking is dangerously naive and shows little to no understanding of the organization. Of course they’re going to deny IS links while operating in Australia (they wish to avoid the fate of al-Rislah or the attack cell that was rounded up a few months ago in Sydney and Brisbane). This organization is very much involved in the external support networks providing men, equipment and money to IS on the front-lines in Syria. To say otherwise stinks of ignorance or complicity – if the shoe fits wear it. Banning it inside Australia would actually make it harder for them to provide support to IS’ war effort – contrary to what some in the media are saying. One need not look further than the Aussie branch’s refusing to condemn the Charlie Hebdo and Copenhagen Shootings in addition to their calls to “resist the ‘vile and racist’ west” as proof on where they stand.

Extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir sends veiled threat to Prime Minister Tony Abbott

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/extremist-group-hizb-ut-tahrir-sends-veiled-threat-to-prime-minister-tony-abbott/story-fni0cx12-1227213869800

Why ban Hizb ut-Tahrir? They’re not Isis – they’re Isis’s whipping boys

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/13/why-ban-hizb-ut-tahrir-theyre-not-isis-theyre-isiss-whipping-boys

Controversial Australian Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir refuses to condemn terrorist attacks in Paris… and calls on Muslims to resist the ‘vile and racist’ West

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2906479/Australian-group-Hizb-ut-Tahrir-refuses-condemn-terrorist-attacks-Paris.html

HUT is very savvy in publicly maintaining a “grey-area” so as to avoid targeting, while continuing their operations with other entities. The organization’s platform and ideology are well-defined, crafting itself as a “political movement” with the goal of purging democracy from the world and establishing Sharia in its place. For them, politics and Islam are one. Specifically, HUT seeks to bring about the return to the “Caliphate” that ruled Muslims following the death of the Prophet Muhammed under the “four righteous Caliphs.” There’s a reason why they’re banned throughout the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia and a few European countries – and it has nothing to do with them being “victims,” although that’s the narrative their Spokesmen would have the media believe. HUT’s Australia and Indonesian branches have proven very successful in preventing efforts to crackdown on their operations and serves as the model from which Philippines-based NGOs and Islamic centers to copy as a result.

The ISIS Expansion into South and Southeast Asia

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3202

US Humanitarian Aid Going to ISIS – Just the Tip of the Iceberg

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2737

Japan: ISIS Recruiting Ground?

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2706

Australia Struggles Over Role of Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic Group

http://www.wsj.com/articles/australia-struggles-over-role-of-hizb-ut-tahrir-islamic-group-1416280803

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From the HASI homepage: A group of HASI members with some locals in Syria
Source: http://www.hasi.or.id

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HUT Australia Spokesman Uthman Badar
Source: The Guardian

Despite the current political challenges and legal loopholes being exploited by IS affiliates in Australia, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have done an admirable job in proactively identifying threats and neutralizing them. Unfortunately, the threat still exists and our sources in the Middle East have warned us that its only going to get worse after confirming that IS having formed a new “English-speaking” foreign fighter battalion consisting of Aussie, British and American jihadists. Currently, the fighters in this unit – known as the “Anwar al-Awlaki Battalion” – are serving on the front-lines in Northern Syria (although we’ve heard that a detachment has been sent to reinforce Mosul and Tikrit). However, our sources have informed us that the goal of this unit is to have personnel with enough experience to be sent back to their countries of origin within the next 4-5 months. Of this, Australia and the US were mentioned as the two primary targets followed by the UK and to a lesser extent, France. the Anwar al-Awlaqi Battalion is the sister unit to Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiyah (KNLDI – more to follow in an upcoming article), which consists of Malaysian, Indonesian and Filipino foreign fighters who have the same tasking. The formation of regionally-aligned units are clear indicators that efforts are underway to begin setting up specialized attack cells in western nations and incorporating these returning personnel into new training support packages to aid in training up additional recruits in the target countries. The homegrown sleeper cells are bad enough, but battle-hardened jihadists who learned a multitude of TTPs from comrades coming from other terror groups dramatically changes the ballgame. As IS continues to develop their capability to hit Western nations, support networks in Southeast Asia and Australia will become even more important…

ISIS Forms English-Speaking Battalion To Target The West

http://www.westernjournalism.com/isis-forms-english-speaking-battalion-to-target-the-west/#DfTlXredralpQMjO.97

Australia Launches Largest CT OP in History Against ISIS

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1819

Aussie Federal Police Detain Two in Counter-Terror Raid

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4218

ISIS Crosses River in New Attacks on Assyrian Villages in Syria

20150307144423AINA News, March 7, 2015:

Hasaka, Syria (AINA) — ISIS crossed to the northern side of the Khabur river in the Hasaka province of Syria At 2 A.M. this morning and launched fierce attacks on several villages. ISIS fighters crossed through the village of Tel Maghas and Tel Nasri and began fighting with Kurdish and Assyrian fighters near the Arab village of Rgouba, which is near Tel Maghas, where Kurdish fighters maintain a checkpoint.

Heavy weapons and troops are streaming from the ISIS stronghold at Mount Abdul Aziz for a major assault on the entire area. The Syriac Military Council has asked for international aid.

ISIS appears to be pushing to take control of Tel Tamar, a strategic town in the area.

The villages of Rgouba Tel Maghas and Tel Nasri briefly fell under ISIS control but were recaptured by Kurdish and Assyrian fighters after Syrian regime planes bombed bombed ISIS positions in Tel Shamiran, Oja and other locations.

There is intense street fighting in Tel Nasri. 17 Assyrian fighters are reportedly surrounded in Tel Maghas.

ISIS heavily shelled the towns of Tel Tamar, Tel Nasri, Tel Hafian, and Tel Maghas.

News of the release of the Assyrian prisoners appears to be false and may have been disinformation put out buy ISIS in advance of these attacks.

The fighting continues.

Also see:

ISIS Is Running Short of Recruits

Defeat on the battlefield and a wave of deserters is weakening the caliphate’s ability to fight. THAIER AL-SUDANI/REUTERS

Defeat on the battlefield and a wave of deserters is weakening the caliphate’s ability to fight. THAIER AL-SUDANI/REUTERS

Newsweek, BY MONA ALAMI, 3/4/15:

As the pressure on the Islamic State (ISIS) mounts against the backdrop of coalition attacks and a Kurdish offensive in Syria’s Raqqa region, militant recruitment has become a pressing matter for the radical organization, which has lost many fighters in clashes around Iraq and Syria.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, out of 1,800 people killed during the Kobani battles, 70 percent belonged to ISIS. On February 14, 132 fighters died across Syria, including 44 ISIS militants.

Given mounting losses, ISIS expansion has relied on a two-pronged recruitment approach: targeting foreigners looking to join the new caliphate and enlisting members of the local population. While the foreign recruitment strategy appears successful, local recruitment faces growing obstacles in Syria and Iraq.

ISIS has relied on a powerful branding strategy, diffusing violent images on social media, YouTube and Twitter. The organization has released several documentaries boasting its military exploits such as the “Flames of War,” featuring heroic jihadists and gruesome footage of bombings and executions.

This systematic glamorization of violence has allowed the terror group to attract foreign recruits. In January, a new study by International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence estimated that the number of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria had reached about 20,000.

ISIS’s local recruitment approach has been described in Idarat al Tawahosh,(The Management of Savagery), a book written by Abu Bakr Naji in 2004, which ISIS has adopted. Naji argues that the first step for recruitment is “the creation of organizations to improve the management of the areas under our control.”

ISIS applied this technique initially following its surge in June. The groups managed everything from bakeries and banks to schools, courts and mosques in Raqqa. One activist admitted at that the time that the organization had been doing “massive institutional work.”

A second recruitment tool imagined by Naji was the manipulation of tribal antagonism in favor of the organization. ISIS attempted to mobilize Arab crowds ahead of the battle of Tel Hamis in Syria last year using flagrant anti-Kurdish discourse. In accordance with Naji’s recommendation to use money or power as incentives, activists in Raqqa report that ISIS offered cash andsabaya (female slaves) to local tribal leaders to encourage them to swear allegiance.

Indoctrinating local populations and its youth was another cornerstone to Naji’s manifesto. Since its inception, ISIS has imposed religious and military training on children in the Raqqa province. The same activists report that the group uses two training camps—Sharea Ashbal and Maahad Ashbal al-Khilafa—to indoctrinate and train children.

According to a Syrian Human Rights Committee report in August, at least 800 children under 18 had been recruited by ISIS. Other reports highlight the more than 30 kids fighting with ISIS in Kobani. An ISIS defector said that militants targeted the young to break down traditional authority structures: alliance to the family and to the tribe.

While these strategies succeeded initially, they appear more difficult to maintain in the wake of the continuous coalition, Kurdish and Shia militia attacks on ISIS. The counteroffensives have killed many militants and disrupted the transfer of goods between regions under the organization’s control. Naji’s governance tool appears to be faltering as residents of ISIS-controlled areas increasingly complain of rising food and fuel prices and declining services. The price of staples such as bread has also risen significantly and basic products have become scarce.

ISIS has since resorted to aggressive means for youth recruitment, triggering resentment in some areas. One Iraqi activist notes that the organization often recruits children without the knowledge or approval of their families, leading to a drop in school attendance. A wave of conscription among youth in Mosul, Hawija, and Kirkuk in Iraq has in some cases led to kidnappings to coerce families to provide them with fighters (although reports could not be independently confirmed).

ISIS militants also arrested forty ex-fighters in the Nusra Front and rebel factions from the village of Abriha and town of al-Sahil and trained them in Shariah camps before sending them to battlefronts. Syrian activists said that ISIS also began forcing male members of foreign families that had come to live in the Islamic State, but did not want to fight, to participate in battles.

As a result, ISIS has suffered increased defections in Syria, particularly after the fall of Kobani. Militants have tried to return home or join other groups. ISIS executed 100 jihadists who attempted to defect. Defections have left the organization possibly facing a shortage of willing martyrs.

Other reports point to ISIS police arresting 400 fighters in Raqqa for not reporting for duty. The same Iraqi activist reported that the organization banned truck drivers from transporting ISIS fighters to limit desertion. In both Raqqa and Mosul, the transit of residents in and out of the city has been closely monitored.

Decreasing human resources may account for ISIS repositioning across areas under its control. ISIS had to transfer in late December 800 Chechens, Afghans, and Syrians with their families to the city of Tel Affar (31 miles west of Mosul), which was scene of heavy fighting. The number of ISIS checkpoints and patrols also dwindled in the Syrian border town of al-Bokamel in January with troops possibly funnelled into Iraq.

ISIS relies heavily on the loyalty of both its muhajireen (foreign fighters) base and ansar (local supporters). While the organization’s successes bolstered its appeal among foreign fighters, warlords and tribes whether in Syria or Iraq, new losses may be starting to chip away at its aura of power.

The rate of recruitment has dropped by more than half in February (only 54 recruited) compared with January 2015. Compare this figure to June 2014, when nearly 6,000 fighters had joined ISIS.

Growing defections, rising tensions, and declining local recruitment puts added pressure on ISIS and provides the U.S.-led coalition and the Baghdad government with a window of opportunity to degrade the organization. But in Iraq, other social, political and economic reasons account for local support of ISIS. Naji’s tactic using tribal antagonism to breed organizational loyalty may not have had enough time to sink in, but for many Sunnis—particularly in Iraq—no credible alternative to ISIS has emerged.

The Iraqi government will need to take concerted steps to diffuse sectarian tensions and present itself as that alternative. ISIS also benefits from the use of both Syrian and Iraqi territory according to its military needs. The anti-ISIS coalition will need a more comprehensive approach in Syria if it hopes to win the day.

Mona Alami is a nonresident fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center currently reporting from Iraq. She is a French-Lebanese journalist and based in Beirut. Follow her on Twitter @monaalami. This article first appeared on the Atlantic Council’s website.

World View: Reports Indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia Planning Military Action in Libya

Reuters

Reuters

Breitbart, by JOHN J. XENAKIS, March 1, 2015:

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya
  • Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization
  • Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya

Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)
Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)

Various unconfirmed reports are emerging indicating that there may be joint international action planned in Libya as early as next week.

Egypt is already conducting air strikes against ISIS-linked targets in Derna, close to where Egyptian Coptics were massacred recently, as displayed in a gruesome video. Debka reports that Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi is planning further action in Libya, including more air strikes and possible ground troops, within a few days. According to the report, Egyptian commando and marine forces are preparing for sea landings to seize Derna and destroy the terrorist elements there. If this attack is actually launched, it will be the first time in modern times that an Arab country has sent ground forces into another Arab country.

Al-Jazeera television reports that the Italian navy is getting ready to carry off sophisticated military drills off the coast of Libya as early as Monday. Although Italy claims that it will be a regular exercise, there are many more vessels taking part in this year’s exercise than have in the past, which Italy explains by saying that they are testing out sophisticated new technologies.

There are several reasons why Italy is pursuing this show of force:

  • Italy considers the flood of migrants from Libya into Italy to be an existential threat to Italy itself, because there may be ISIS-trained terrorists smuggled in, along with the other migrants. Italy may be planning some kind of military action in Libya in conjunction with Egypt’s air strikes and other operations.
  • The GreenStream pipeline is a gas pipeline running underneath the Mediterranan Sea from Libya to Sicily. The pipeline is vital to economic relations between Italy and Libya. In recent months, there have been attacks by gunmen on oil installations in Libya, forcing some ports to shut down. The new show of naval force may be related to threats of attack or sabotage on the pipeline.
  • For over a year, Italy ran a search and rescue program called “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) that saved the lives of thousands of migrants attempting to travel from Libya to Italy. This program required Italian naval vessels near the Libyan coast. In November, the program ended and an EU program called Triton replaced it, but Triton restricts its operations to only 30 miles off the Italian coast. Triton has been considered unsatisfactory because many more migrants are drowning. Italy’s new show of naval force may be an attempt to restore a portion of the Mare Nostrum program.
  • Related to the last point, on Saturday there were large demonstrations in Rome by Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party for the government to do more to keep immigrants out. The naval show of force may help to mollify the protestors.

Some reports indicate that Russia has hinted at a willingness to participate in a naval blockade of Libya to prevent arm supplies from leaving Libya for other countries. Russia could play a role in this because it already has a naval fleet in the Mediterranean.

These are all unconfirmed reports of possible military action in Libya by Egypt, Italy and Russia. There are no reports of possible participation by Nato or the United States. Debkaand Cairo Post

Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization

Egypt on Saturday became the first Arab country to name Hamas as a terrorist organization. The U.S. and the European Union have named Hamas as a terror group. An EU court took Hamas off the list in December 2014, ruling that the designation was not based on solid legal evidence, but the EU is appealing the court’s decision.

According to a decision on Saturday from the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters:

It has been proven without any doubt that the movement has committed acts of sabotage, assassinations and the killing of innocent civilians and members of the armed forces and police in Egypt.

It has been also ascertained with documents that [Hamas] has carried out bombings that have taken lives and destroyed institutions and targeted civilians and the armed forces personnel. It has also been ascertained that this movement works for the interests of the terrorist Brotherhood organization [which Egypt has already declared to be a terrorist organization].

About a month ago, the same court declared Hamas’s military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, to be a terrorist organization. Saturday’s ruling makes the political wing a terrorist organization as well.

A Hamas spokesman denied all the charges and said that the ruling was “dangerous”:

History has recorded Egypt’s support to national liberty movements in the Arab world and Africa, particularly in Palestine. … This ruling serves the Israeli occupation. It’s a politicized decision that constitutes the beginning of Egypt evading its role toward the Palestinian cause. This is a coup against history and an Egyptian abuse of the Palestinian cause and resistance, which fights on behalf of the Arab nation. We call on Egypt to reconsider this dangerous decision.

Al Jazeera and Al Ahram (Cairo) and CS Monitor and Al Resalah (Palestine)

Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

By coincidence or by planning, the presidents of both Egypt and Turkey will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this week. Egypt’s Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will both be visiting King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the new king of Saudi Arabia, who has replaced King Abdullah, who died last month.

It is not known whether Erdogan will ever be in the same room as al-Sisi. The two have been bitter enemies ever since a coup by al-Sisi ousted Egypt’s elected president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, and later declared MB to be a terrorist organization. Erdogan’s own political party, the AKP, is an Islamist party like the Muslim Brotherhood, and they had good relations while Morsi was in power.

There has been some speculation that King Salman is going to completely reverse King Abdullah’s policy on the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) had branded MB as a terrorist organization, but some are wondering if Salman is going to shift from that policy. The Saudi foreign minister recently said that his government has “no problem with the Muslim Brotherhood; our problem is with a small group affiliated to the organization,” suggesting that shift is in the works.

Other problems make an Egypt-Turkey rapprochement unlikely: Erdogan vitriolicly hates Israel and supports Hamas. Al-Sisi vitriolicly hates Hamas and works closely with Israel on military matters, especially in North Sinai. It does n0t seem likely that any meeting, if one even occurs, will be pleasant.

If King Salman is able to pull off a miracle and mediate a new relationship between Egypt and Turkey, then it would appear to be the establishment of a new “Sunni front” in the Mideast, to oppose Iran, Hezbollah and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Al Arabiya and Kurdistan and Arab Times

Disturbing Questions Lurk Behind Dutch “Jihad Galas”

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
February 27, 2015

1140It’s hard enough choosing the right gown for the Oscars, the prettiest frock for Junior Prom. But how do you select the burqa that best befits a jihadi gala?

Two such soirees, ostensibly being staged to raise money for humanitarian aid to Syria, Palestine, and elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia, have raised controversy in the Netherlands in recent weeks. Nicknamed “jihad galas” by local media, both events have been forced to revamp their programs and venues after the government raised concerns about several of their invited speakers.

In the process, heightened focus on the two organizations has helped unveil a web of secrecy and deceit behind many such endeavors and the people who support them.

The first event, tentatively scheduled to take place in Utrecht on March 1, aims to raise funds for World Wide Relief (WWR), a Dutch-based organization that supports children in Syria, among others. The other, originally set for March 8 in Rijswijk and now planned as a live-stream event to be broadcast from an undisclosed location, will benefit Holland’s Rohamaa Foundation, a self-described “Islamic-inspired” charity that aids communities in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Southern Turkey.

But according to a number of reports, the two groups, which claim to have each raised hundreds of thousands of euros from Dutch Muslims, have links to Salafist preachers and supporters of ISIS and al-Qaida. Several of those preachers were invited to speak at the galas, including some from the Middle East who received visas from the Dutch government to do so. Immediately, concerned Parliament members, armed with information provided by the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism (NCTV), protested, successfully demanding that the visas be rescinded in light of the imams’ anti-Western, Salafist profiles. The uproar has led to changes in plans for both galas, though Rohamaa has hinted that its invited speakers will still be heard via the live-stream broadcast.

While the government has not banned either event from taking place (Rohamaa itself made the decision to hold the event online), the controversy surrounding the two galas has set off heated debates about the meaning of “free expression” in the current climate: If you allow Charlie Hebdo‘s provocative content, shouldn’t you also allow the anti-Western tirades of Salafist imams? If not, why not?

The question touches on a highly sensitive issue that has long raised hackles even among members of the United Nations: Resolution 16/18, an initiative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which bans speech that would be construed as “incitement to imminent violence,” received U.S. approval in 2011.

The problem with this argument, and with Resolution 16/18, is that the Mohammed cartoons do not, in themselves, incite violence, however much some Muslims might insist otherwise. They are simply used that way by religious fanatics and Islamists whose twisted logic determines that anger and insult are reason enough to justify violent behavior.

The speakers invited to the Dutch galas, on the other hand, include Egyptian imam Wahid Baali, who has decried the killing of Osama bin Laden, and Saudi Sheikh Assim al-Hakeem, known for supporting the execution of Christians and Jews who insult the prophet Mohammed, and for his conviction that women are obliged to serve the sexual needs of their husbands. (Al-Hakeem was among those whose visas were rescinded.)

Rohamaa invitee Muhammad Hussan has referred to Jews as “those hateful and disgusting creatures.” He also owns  Al-Rhama TV, whose programming, according to MEMRI, frequently exhorts Muslims to annihilate the Jews. If you’re looking for speech that “incites violence,” it would be hard to find better examples than these.

WWR in particular seems to have forged a strong and intricate network among the stars of Salafist activity. In addition to partnering with al-Hakeem and Baali, WWR founder Abou Hafs has also chummed up with  the Belgian extremist Tarik Chadlioui, aka Tarik ibn Ali, considered one of the top fundraisers for Salafist causes in Europe. Just last year, Ronald Sandee, a former Dutch secret service official, described Chadlioui as “one of the most important influences behind the now-banned organizations Sharia4Belgium and the German Millatu Ibrahim, as well as the Dutch Sharia4Holland. He has many contacts via social media with young men from Belgium, Holland, and Germany who have joined the jihad in Syria.”

World Wide Relief is also frequently praised on Dutch jihadists’ web sites, according to Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Even Hafs, the NRC reports, has been known to praise Dutch Muslims who travel to Syria to join the jihad. The father of 19-year-old Dutch suicide bomber Sultan Berzel, who blew himself up in Baghdad, killing 20 others, has accused him of spreading “IS ideology.”

In speeches across the country, Hafs calls on fellow Muslims to resist the influence of “kuffars” (unbelievers) and to separate themselves from Dutch society or secularism by refusing to vote in Dutch elections.

But if that’s not enough to keep you from ordering up your Albert Nipon  niqab, your abaya by Alaia and sending in your contributions to the cause, try this: no one really seems to know exactly what Rohamaa and  World Wide Relief fund actually do with their donations.

Though Rohamaa claims to work through Allah “in an Islamic way,” it seems to do so secretively: its website provides no information about its officers or administrators, let alone its financial activities. (A button for “sponsors” on its home page is inactive.) And no reports seem to be available on its finances, beyond the basic banking information one would need to wire a donation.

The same seems to be true of World Wide Relief. An extensive investigation by theNRC Handelsblad revealed that the organization consistently failed to submit annual reports of its activities as required by law. There may be a reason for this: based on what information is available on the charity’s website, Roland Sandee, now the chief global jihad analyst for the Kronos Advisory think tank, calculated that only half of the €150,000 allegedly devoted to humanitarian aid in Syria had actually been spent – though details about the use of those funds are lacking. What happened to the other €75,000 is a mystery. This, while dozens of European Muslims head off to Syria in the guise of “humanitarian aid.” In fact, says the NRC, many fundraisers for such organizations themselves eventually “show up in Syria as jihadists.” Officials who spoke to the NRC also noted that, “A portion of the collected funds [of these charities] is likely given to non-humanitarian causes.”

At the Oscars, at least, no matter what you wear, you know who the winners are.   What’s clear about these galas is we’re the ones who lose.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Syria’s Civil War Could Stabilize Its Region

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
February 26, 2015

Population shifts resulting from Syria’s four-year long civil war have profoundly changed Syria and its three Arabic-speaking neighbors: Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Turkey and Israel have changed too, but less so.) Ironically, amid tragedy and horror, as populations adapt to the brutal imperatives of modern nationalism, all four countries are becoming a bit more stable. That’s because the fighting has pushed peoples to move from ethnic minority status to ethnic majority status, encouraging like to live with like.

Before looking at each country, some background:

First, along with the Balkans, the Middle East contains the most complex and unsettled ethnic, religious, linguistic, and national mix in the world. It’s a place where cross-border alliances deeply complicate local politics. If the Balkans set off World War I, the Middle East might well spark World War III.

Second, historic tensions between the two main Muslim sects, Sunni and Shi’i, had largely subsided before Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979. Driven by Tehran’s aggression, they have since flared anew.

 

The brutal 8-year war, 1980-88 between Iran and Iraq did much to exacerbate Sunni-Shi’i hostility.

Third, the imperialist European powers nearly ignored the identity of the peoples living in the Middle East as they defined most of the region’s borders. Instead, they focused on rivers, ports, and other resources that served their economic interests. Today’s jumble of somewhat randomly-defined countries (e.g., Jordan) is the result.

Finally, Kurds were the major losers a century ago; lacking intellectuals to make their case, they found themselves divided among four different states and persecuted in them all. Today, they are organized for independence.

Returning to Syria and its Arab neighbors (and drawing on Pinhas Inbari’s “Demographic Upheaval: How the Syrian War is Reshaping the Region“):

Syria and Iraq have undergone strikingly similar developments. After the demise of monstrous dictators in 2000 and 2003, each has broken into the same three ethnic units – Shi’i Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurd. Tehran dominates both Shi’i-oriented regimes, while several Sunni-majority states (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar) back the Sunni rebels. The Kurds have withdrawn from the Arab civil wars to build their own autonomous areas. Once-ambitious dictatorships barely sustain functioning foreign policies. Also, the century-old boundary separating Syria and Iraq has largely vanished.

Syria: The part of Syria still ruled by Bashar al-Assad is becoming more Shi’i. An estimated half of the pre-war Syrian population of 22 million has been driven from its homes; of them, the 3 million refugees, mostly Sunni, who fled the country are unlikely to return both because of the continuing civil war and the Assad regime’s revocation of their citizenship. The regime appears also to have intentionally reduced its control over the area near the border with Jordan to encourage Sunnis to flee Syria. In another ploy to increase the Shi’i population, reports indicate it has welcomed and re-settled about 500,000 Iraqi Shi’is, conferring Syrian citizenship on some.

 

Bashar al-Assad must have been a better ophthalmologist than dictator.

Iraq: The Syrian civil war provided the Islamic State (or ISIS/ISIL) with an opportunity to move into Iraq, seizing such cities as Fallujah and Mosul, leading to an exodus of non-Sunnis (especially Shi’is and Yazidis), and remaking Iraq along ethnic lines. Given the country’s intermingled population, especially in the Baghdad area, it will be years – perhaps decades – before the sides sort themselves out. But the process appears inexorable.

Lebanon: Sunnis are growing more powerful, beating back the Iranian influence. The million new Sunni refugees from Syria now constitute 20 percent of the country’s population, roughly doubling the Sunni community. Also, Hizbullah, the dominant Shi’i organization in Lebanon, is neglecting its own constituency and losing influence domestically by fighting on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria.

 

Hizbullah militiamen in Syria reduces the group’s influence in its home country, Lebanon.

Jordan: The recent influx of Syrian refugees follows an earlier wave of approximately one million Iraqi refugees. Together, the two groups have lowered the percentage of Palestinians in Jordan to the point that the latter probably no longer constitute a majority of the country’s population, a shift with major political implications. For one, it reduces the potential Palestinian threat to the Hashemite monarchy; for another, it undermines the Jordan-is-Palestine argument championed by some Israelis.

In brief, Iraq and Syria are devolving into their constituent religious and ethnic parts, Lebanon is becoming more Sunni, and Jordan less Palestinian. However gruesome the human cost of the Syrian civil war, its long-term impact potentially renders the Middle East a less combustible place, one less likely to trigger World War III.

Jihadi John Identified as Mohammed Emwazi

February 26, 2015 / /

Mohammed Emwazi was born in Kuwait in 1988 and moved to the UK in 1994. He was raised in a middle class family in Queens Park, London, UK. He is also graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming in 2009. Emwazi’s family was at least considered lower middle class and some reporting states upper middle class. This puts him a far cry from the underprivileged stereotype that US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf calls underprivileged without opportunity individual.

Jihadi John aloneMohammed Emwazi AKA: Jihad John

Source: ISIS Study Group

Emwazi already had terrorist associations dating back to at least 2005 as a small group of people he was associated with had links to individuals that were linked to personalities involved in the attempted 21 July 2005 subway bombings in London. He became noticed after his association with Bilal el-Berjawi became known. Bilal el-Berjawi was already a known terrorism personality associated with Al Shabaab in UK circles before his death in a US drone strike in Somalia. Emwazi himself attempted to travel to Tanzania and is believed to have been attempting to join or train with Somalia based Al Shabaab.

Mohammed Emwazi also has an alias Muhammad ibn Muazzam which he was identified under in 2010 by the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html). This is also something that is associated with terrorist activity and he had done this while traveling to Tanzania in August 2009. The infamous Jihad John has numerous connections to terrorist personalities in Al Shabaab or sympathizers in the UK.

An associate of Emwazi trained with Al Shabaab in 2007 and was under the program TPIMS (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures). Ibrahim Magag was a known financier and forged passports. TPIMS is a program that involves restrictions including overnight residence at a specified address, GPS tracking, reporting requirements, restrictions on travel, movement and association, communication, finance, work and study. Magag was able to escape by taking a taxi. His whereabouts are unknown and is possible and likely he left the country. His ability to forge passports definitely could have assisted in the ability exit the country.

Police Launch Manhunt for ‘Terror Suspect’ Who Went Missing on Boxing Day…While Under Close Surveillance

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255394/Ibrahim-Magag-Police-launch-manhunt-terror-suspect-went-missing-Boxing-Day–close-surveillance.html

Ibrahim Magag, 28, absconded from a terrorism prevention and investigation measure noticeIbrahim Magag

Source: The Guardian

Two more associates were of high enough value to have been targets in US drone strikes in Somalia. Bilal el-Berjawi and Mohamed Sakr were also associated with Mohammed Emwazi while he lived in the UK. Bilal el-Berjawi was a senior Al Qaeda operative in the Somalia region and fought with AL Shabaab. He had traveled between terrorist organizations in Africa and the UK at least five times before having his citizenship revoked in 2010. He and Sakr had traveled to Kenya in 2009, but were sent back to the UK under investigation and then Sakr fled the UK in October 2009.

Terrorist Who Radicalized ISIS Executioner Jihadi John Passed Freely Between UK and African Terror Hot Spots for Three Years

http://www.capitalbay.com/news/733232-terrorist-who-radicalised-isis-executioner-jihadi-john-passed-freely-between-uk-and-african-terror-hot-spots-for-three-years.html

261E8D3C00000578-2970392-Bilal_al_Berjawi_Capitalbay

Bilal el-Berjawi

Source: Capital Bay

Bilal was associated with a key figure in the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Bilal was a recruiter and trainer for Al Shabaab and likely a commander at the time of his death in January 2012 in the vicinity of Mogadishu. Mohamed Sakr was killed by another drone strike in Somalia in February 2012.

British Al Qaeda Member Killed in US Drone Attack in Somalia

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jan/22/british-al-qaida-suspect-drone-somalia

Mohamed Sakr-thebureauinvestigatesMohamed Sakr

Source: The Bureau Investigates

Emwazi’s computer programming skills are also something that sets him apart from the unskilled, uneducated individual Ms Harf talked about. His technical skills are likely involved in the production of the horrid execution videos that he stars in. He is more than the “star” of these gruesome productions, he likely is acting in a directorial capacity as well as editing the final production. There is a strong possibility that he is directly associated with Ahmed Abousamra that is a key figure in the Al Hayat Media Center. Jihad John is more like a public spokesperson than he is anything else. That is why he appears in the videos so frequently or does voice overs for them.

There is a high probability that if Jihad John is located that key figures within Al Hayat Media Center may be in close proximity such as Ahmed Abousamra making Jihad John an even higher value target. Abousamra is a central figure in the social media and propaganda machine of the Islamic State and they likely collaborate in some fashion on the productions.

The Man Behind the ISIS Media Curtain Ahmad Abousamra

The Coalition Forces should stop being concerned with bringing him to justice through a court system and should be more concerned with his direct elimination. He has been located on more than one instance by an armed unmanned aerial vehicle which could have launched a hellfire missile to kill the terrorist spokesperson. Mohammed Emwazi is not a criminal he is a terrorist combatant regardless if he takes part in actual fighting. It is highly doubtful he takes place in any actual combat as their other spokesman Abu Mousa who was killed in combat at Taqba Air Base in Syria.

Taqba Air Base and The Death of Abu Mousa

The Islamic State isn’t likely to take the chance of losing their posterchild for recruiting and propaganda in combat action as they lost Abu Mousa shortly after his remarks about flying the flag of the Islamic State over the White House. He died like a week later. Jihad John may play tough guy on the screen but he is likely not such a tough guy off the screen.

He was earlier identified as former British Rapper Abdel-Majed Bary shortly after the first execution video came out of American journalist James Foley. Several images reportedly showed Bary holding images of him holding a severed head in Raqqa, Syria where the Islamic State had massacred Syrian military personnel and placed 50 of their heads on a fence in town center. There was some speculation that this was not the same person as in the execution videos as Jihad John has a lazy left eye. Sometimes so lazy it looks as if he can’t keep it open.

Connections to Emwazi before his move to Syria in 2012 were to Al Shabaab figures and likely the organization itself prior to the harassment he was supposed to have endured on his trip to Tanzania. The connections to Abousamra and Islamic State came in 2012 after he joined the terror organization in 2012. As we have pointed out in previous articles the Islamic State makes assessments of recruits based on not only their potential fighting skills, but also their technical skills. Emwazi’s computer technical skills likely scored him a non fighting position within the organization and has made him a death cult start within its ranks and to potential new recruits. A spokesman for CAGE had tried stating that Emwazi was driven to radicalization due to harassment by MI5, but as we have shown his ties to known terrorist personalities date back to as early as 2005, but he came up on the radar in 2009.

Jihad John Connections

Mohammed Emwazi connections

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Foley Executioner Identified as abdel-Majed Abdel Bary

Links to Related Articles:

British Muslims on Safari Stopped by MI5

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html

ISIS Militant ‘Jihadi John’ Identified, US Officials Say

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/middleeast/isis-jihadi-john-identity/index.html

ISIS Hammers Christian Towns in Syria for Third Day

REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS

REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS

Breitbart, by Katie Gorka, Feb. 25, 2015:

Today marks the third day in ISIS’ latest offensive against a string of Christian towns and villages in northeast Syria. According to Aziz Mirza, with the Syriac Cultural Association, speaking from Qamishli by phone today, ISIS is continuing to push forward in trying to take control of this predominantly Assyrian Christian region.

Mirza said an estimated 350-400 people are missing from 12 different villages, but it has been very difficult to confirm those numbers because all cell phones appear to be confiscated. When relatives have tried calling, members of ISIS answer the phones, Mirza said.

Kurdish and Christian fighters have been working together for the past year and half to protect this area from ISIS. The Christian fighters, who operate as the Syriac Military Council, had forces in 3 villages: Tel Hormizd, at the southern end of the Khabur valley, Tel Shamiram, at the northern end, and Tel Tawil on the northeast flank. The SMC and Kurdish (YPG) forces had been there since Feb 7, but with the pre-dawn attack that was launched on February 23rd, ISIS has now retaken control. So far, the Syriac Military Council has lost four fighters with another 12 deaths suspected but not yet confirmed.

ISIS is currently focusing its efforts on the town of Tel Tamar, which is the regional center. Yesterday, ISIS set off three car bombs just outside the barricades protecting Tel Tamar, near where the Syriac Military Council forces and Kurdish forces are headquartered. There were no casualties. Mirza also said that fighting ebbed somewhat on Tuesday because of heavy rains, but today, February 25, it was back at full force.

In a separate phone call, Sewerios Malke from the Syriac Military Council confirmed that ISIS is still trying to take control of the region and that they are trying to cross the Khabur river. The Kurdish and Syriac forces have been able to hold them back so far but it is uncertain how much longer that can last. He estimates the number of ISIS fighters at several thousand.

According to a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release, U.S. and coalition military forces have carried out airstrikes in the Khabur River region where this fighting is going on. Between 8 a.m. yesterday (Feb 24) and 8 a.m. today (Feb 25), local time, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Syria:

  • Near Hasakah, three airstrikes struck an ISIL vehicle.
  • Near Kobani, six airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, an ISIL fighting position and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions.
AINA Media

AINA Media

However, both Malke and Mirza asserted that there were no airstrikes in the Khabur region, only further south, 22 kilometers below Qamishli. The stark contrast between the stories of hundreds or even thousands of ISIS fighters attacking villages, taking as many as 400 hostages, and three U.S. airstrikes in the same region that struck only one vehicle, suggests the U.S. may be missing the target.

Some have argued that without troops, or at least advisors, on the ground, there is insufficient intelligence to guide airstrikes. In addition, representatives of the Syriac forces have been making the case in Washington for the past several years that their location in Syria made them particularly vulnerable to attack by ISIS and they could be key players in the fight against ISIS. They were therefore lobbying to be included in the equipping and training of opposition forces in Syria. The State Department has confirmed that the Syriac forces were not included in the first round of training.

Katie Gorka is the president of the Council on Global Security. @katharinegorka.

Also see:

War on Christians: ISIS Goes on Church-Burning and Kidnapping Spree in Syria

Fighters from ISIS parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armoured vehicle in Mosul, Iraq, last year. ISIS militants have abducted at least 70 Assyrian Christians in Syria. (Associated Press)

Fighters from ISIS parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armoured vehicle in Mosul, Iraq, last year. ISIS militants have abducted at least 70 Assyrian Christians in Syria. (Associated Press)

Breitbart, by Katie Gorka, Feb. 24, 2015:

After the reports of attacks against Christian in Syria, Katie Gorka, President of the Council on Global Security, spoke directly to representatives of the Assyrian community currently under attack:

Around 4:00 in the morning on Monday, February 23rd, an estimated 1500 ISIS fighters attacked a series of Christian towns in northeast Syria, burning churches, taking as many as 90 hostages, and forcing hundreds to flee from their homes.

According to reports from the Syriac Military Council, a Christian self-defense organization, when ISIS fighters attacked the town of Tel Shamiram, they separated out the men, around 50 of whom they have taken into the mountains, and approximately 90 women and children are being held prisoner in the village by ISIS militants. Some residents were able to flee and they are currently sheltering in churches in Al-Hassaka and Al-Qamishli. According to one source, ISIS has taken 30 Christian young women and plans to distribute them as concubines in the town of Shadadeh.

Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, has made several recent visits to Washington, D.C. warning of the potential for these attacks and asking for U.S. support. He said Hassaka would no doubt be targeted because it separates ISIS in Syria from ISIS in Iraq. Ishak said that the Syriac Military Council had about 1100 troops, but weapons for only 500. The area is being defended by militia that include the Syriac Military Council (MFS), Christian police (Sutoro), the Khabur Guards, and the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG).

His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, Diocese of California, spoke earlier today with the Assyrian Bishop in the area where the attacks have taken place. Bishop Royel reported the following:

I was in contact around 3:00 a.m. this morning with our bishop who is in Hassaka. Over 400 families from the region of Khabour fled to Hassaka. They were brought to the cathedral. Bishop Afram Athneil received them. Initially they were housed in the church hall and in the bishop’s residence. Now they have been put up in homes in Hassaka and Qamishli. Qamishli is under the control of the government but Hassaka is not. The biggest fear is that ISIS is going to overrun the city of Hassaka which is where many Christians are now seeking protection. ISIS is attacking there because the Christians are there and Arab and Kurdish militia are there.

According to Bishop Afrem, the fighting began around 4:00 am Monday morning in the town of Tel Talmar, which is the regional center. The fighting became very intense and ISIS systematically began to take village by village along this 35 kilometer stretch of the Khabour River, all of which are populated by Assyrian Christians. In Tel Shamiram, 50 families have been taken out of their homes, the women and children are being kept in the school, and the village church has been burned. ISIS is saying they want to use the Christians as pawns in exchange for detainees.

In another village, Tel Hormizd, about 12-14 villagers were kidnapped and taken out of the village and nothing has been heard from them. The church there has also been burned down. 200 people were fleeing by car and bus from another village which the Bishop did not want to name in order to protect their flight. Tel Goran was also taken by ISIS and the fighting is currently heavy.

Bishop Royel has said the people of the region are desperate for help and he is asking American churches and Christians to condemn these latest actions of ISIS and to call on President Obama for immediate help to the region.

It is alleged that the Obama Administration did not include Christians from the north eastern region of Syria that is now under attack in its first round of training programs to train and equip the so-called moderate opposition forces. Whether Christians will be included in future training initiatives has not been determined.

Humanitarian assistance to the Christians under siege in northeast Syria can be donated through the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization (ACERO).

Katie Gorka is the president of the Council on Global Security. Follow her at @katharinegorka.

Also see:

Islamic State Torches Churches, Takes 200 Christian Hostages, Western Forces Present Do Nothing

By Raymond Ibrahim, Feb.24, 2015:

In the early hours of Monday, February 23, Islamic State fighters attacked several Christian villages along the Khabur River in north eastern Syria. As many as 200 Christians—including women and children—were taken hostage.  Their families fear that they will either be sold as slaves and/or raped, or simply massacred, as many other Christian hostages of the Islamic State have been—most recently the 21 Coptic martyrs in Libya.

Several churches were also torched or damaged during the jihadi raid, including the church in Tel Hurmiz, one of the oldest churches in Syria, the Mar Bisho church in Tel Shamiran, the church in Qabr Shamiy and the church in Tel Baloua.

And, perhaps worst of all,this raid “brought to light deplorable conduct on the part of other persons,” namely the West.  According to Archbishop Hindo:

I wish to say quite clearly that we have the feeling of being abandoned into the hands of ISIS.  Yesterday American bombers flew over the area several times, but without taking action. We have a hundred Assyrian families who have taken refuge in Hassakè, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or from Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The UN high commission for Refugees is nowhere to be seen.

BREAKING: Islamic State Attacks Assyrian Christian Villages in Northern Syria, Taking Captives and Torching Churches

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Feb. 24, 2015:

Breaking news late yesterday and this morning bring reports of an assault by the Islamic State in Northern Syria targeting Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabour River that began early yesterday morning. Other reports indicate that ISIS has taken captives and torched several churches, including one of the most ancient churches in Syria, and hundreds fleeing the area downriver to Hassake. ISIS is meeting resistance from Christian and Kurdish militias.

European Syriac Union rights activist and journalist David Vergili reports:

Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabour river in the Hassake region are under heavy attacks of ISIS. Hundred of people left the region and number of women and children have been kidnapped by ISIS. Clashes continue between MFS, YPG against ISIS.

On Monday around 5am ISIS carried out an attack on the Assyrian villages in the Khabour region leaving casualties and another exodus of Christians from the region. ISIS attacks are concentrated in the Khabour villages of Til Hirmis, Til Shamiram, Qabre Shamiye and Til Khebish. Local sources confirm that there are ongoing clashes in all front lines against ISIS. Various reports suggest casualties of civilians and burning of churches.

A Demand For Action, another Christian rights organization, published this map to show the area of activity:

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The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported late last night of captives taken and churches torched by ISIS (Warning: graphic images at link):

ISIS has abducted dozens of Assyrian men, women and children, including 12 from Tel Hurmiz, 15 from Tel Goran. They have been brought to Jabal Abdul Aziz. The residents of the villages of Tel Shamiran (approximately 50) and Tel Jazira (about 40) are being held captive in their own villages by ISIS.

According to a report by Newsweek, ISIS will use the Assyrian hostages for a prisoner swap with Kurdish fighters.

A number of churches have been destroyed, including the church in Tel Hurmiz, one of the oldest churches in Syria, the Mar Bisho church in Tel Shamiran, the church in Qabr Shamiy and the church in Tel Baloua.

The Newsweek report referenced above cited threats made against the lives of the captured Christian villagers if a prisoner exchange doesn’t happen:

The terrorist organization demanded a prisoner exchange with Kurdish fighters; they are seeking the release of ISIS members in exchange for the villagers. The exact number of prisoners ISIS is looking to swap for is not known. They have threatened the lives of the village men, estimated to be more than 100, if the swap does not go through.

A Reuters report published this morning provides a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that ISIS has taken at least 90 captives and notes the strategic importance of the area for Kurdish and Christian militias, as well for ISIS:

Syrian Kurdish militia have renewed their assault on the militants, launching two offensives against them in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped from U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga who have been shelling Islamic State-held territory from their side of the nearby border.

This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where last year the ultra-hardline group committed atrocities against the Yazidi community.

Tel Tamr, a town near the Assyrian Christian villages where the abductions occurred, has witnessed heavy clashes between Islamic State fighters and the Kurdish YPG militia, the Observatory said.

Here are some related tweets with information on refugees and the militia response to the ISIS attack. Follow David Vergili and A Demand For Action on Twitter for updates.

civilians fleeing Tell Hamis

Assyrians flee Khabour

save Assyria tweet

Christian fighter

Christian militia

Read more